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Nancy Soward

Executive Director

I began working on the Women’s Independence Scholarship Program in 1999 just as it was being launched by the Sunshine Lady Foundation. Prior to that, I had worked in many different fields, but this was my first time at a non-profit and first time working with survivors. I see now that everything I did before was preparation for my real life’s work at WISP.

I understand how hard it is to work, go to school and raise a family. It took me nine years at night school to complete my undergraduate degree. Then, at age 53 I returned to school to do an MBA, again at night while working. I am very proud of my three grown children – all have completed graduate degrees and are working at universities. I enjoy quilting (I’ve even won some blue ribbons!), reading, and traveling. My husband and I will soon celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary, and we recently welcomed our first grandchild.

Tammy Simmons

Program Director States A-C and O-W

I have been working with sexual assault and domestic violence survivors since 1995. My work has been both with local agencies and as a board member of the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence. While working at our local domestic violence agency, I sponsored many women for the Women’s Independence Scholarship Program. In 2003, Jill and Nancy met me for lunch at Pizza Hut and persuaded me to join them here at WISP. Being a listening ear and a cheerleader for our scholarship recipients has been and continues to be a very rewarding experience.

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology that I earned while attending school full-time and working full-time. I later returned to school and completed a Master’s degree in Public Administration with a Domestic Violence certificate while working full-time here at WISP, running a part-time scrapbooking business, and parenting two little ones.

Ever the busy bee, I currently spend my time outside of WISP being the taxi for my two teens, running a property management business, facilitating a support group at the local domestic violence shelter, and encouraging others towards financial peace.

Jill

Jill Large

Program Director States D-N

I moved to North Carolina in 1996 by way of Connecticut. Having graduated with a Bachelor’s in Human Services from the University of Scranton, I was delighted to put my degree to use; first as a director of a transitional housing program for survivors of domestic violence and then with the Women’s Independence Scholarship Program. My training in case management makes me very solution oriented, yet my goal is to provide options while allowing others the autonomy to make decisions that suit their individual needs. With almost 20 years of working with survivors I think I can call myself an “old timer” in the field, although I learn more about the complexities of relationships on a daily basis.

I have a deep understanding of trauma, grief, and loss having experienced the sudden death of my husband just days after my son was born. Though not a formal education, I consider myself to have a PhD from the School of Life and my expertise is in offering support to others who have experienced life-altering trauma.

In addition to my passion for empowering women, I am a born conservationist and lover of the outdoors. As a child I collected treasures from nature and yelled at strangers to stop littering (much to my mother’s embarrassment) and these days I’m known to pull recyclables out of the trash cans here at the office. There’s not a lot of spare time in this single mama’s life, but if I’m not taking care of my son, working, or maintaining my home I’ll be bodysurfing at the beach, exploring in the woods, practicing yoga and meditation, or getting crafty at my dining room table

Amy Kuuskoski

I have been fortunate to work with WISP, Inc. for over 8 years in a variety of positions. For the majority of this time, I was responsible for writing weekly, monthly, and quarterly newsletters. I designed and implemented several versions of our scholar and sponsor database systems. I also had a brief role as an interim scholarship coordinator in 2009.

I hold a Bachelor’s in Business Marketing with a minor in Professional Writing. After several years and career changes, I returned to school and completed a Master’s in Recreation and Sport Management. Through this experience, I realized my greatest passion has been in supporting students and assisting in their development throughout their collegiate experience.

Obtaining an education is a gateway to unlimited possibilities – I believe students can learn valuable, transferable skills both in the classroom and in co-curricular activities. My ultimate goal is to empower and equip students with the tools for a lifetime of success.

A lifelong athlete, I enjoy playing sports and spending time outdoors. If I’m not practicing my new hobby of powerlifting, you can find me out riding motorcycles.